While it seemed in great difficulty a few weeks ago, space tourism company Virgin Galactic, owned by billionaire Richard Branson has been picking up form and doubling its announcements.

In a recent press release, the company announced that the famous American researcher and TikTok star Kellie Gerardi would take part in a flight to space in the coming months. This comes as a more unconventional marketing strategy of Virgin Galactic, which seeks to make a name for itself behind the two giants of New Space, SpaceX and Blue Origin.

By giving a seat to a person recognized on the TikTok social network with 416,000 subscribers, Richard Branson’s company offers itself a nice publicity stunt and exposure, a necessity for finding new clients for its space tourism project.

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More Than a Social Media Influencer

It would still be wrong to think that Gerardi’s presence in the Virgin Galactic capsule is simply due to her popularity on social networks. The 32-year-old researcher is indeed a space professional and already has several parabolic flights to her credit, which made her the ideal candidate, with or without her TikTok virality.

During her flight with Virgin Galactic she should carry out a whole series of experiments, with those surrounding health questions for the International Institute of Aeronautical Sciences (IIAS) of particular interest.

When Does She Fly? 

Regarding the take-off date, Virgin Galactic’s announcements were very vague. It is difficult to know if this mission will take place during the next year as the 2022 schedule seems to be jam-packed for the British company.

One certainty though, is that the ship that Kellie Gerardi will use is yet to be passed ready, as it is still undergoing numerous tests on ground to ensure a problem-free mission.

It is important to remember that Virgin Galactic chooses a carrier aircraft, instead of a rocket, which makes the development of this technology even more difficult.

This technology had interested NASA engineers for a time who had never really developed this method of flight, with conventional rockets doing the job perfectly. And for now, Virgin Galactic is suffering the same setbacks.

Despite a very successful test flight a few weeks ago, the company is struggling to follow through and is now falling behind in the space war with SpaceX and Blue Origin taking over.

A Still Imperfect Method of Flight

This unique method of flight to space used by Virgin Galactic is its greatest asset, but also its worst flaw. Indeed, if flights with carrier planes are supposed to be much cheaper than flights from a rocket, reaching space remains a perilous mission and the development of the company was halted a few months ago when a pilot lost his life on a test flight.

Moreover, from a scientific point of view, this kind of mission offers a window of experimentation within a few minutes. This is far from sufficient for the vast majority of missions which prefer to pay a little more to be carried out in the ISS and benefit from an optimal framework.

 

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